Julia Louis-Dreyfus Levels Up the Drama in 'Tuesday'

Directed by Daina O. Pusić

Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Leah Harvey, Arinzé Kene

Photo: Kevin Baker / A24

BY Tanner JamesPublished Jun 3, 2024


A talking parrot (or more accurately, a macaw) with a penchant for rap music and dad jokes is not your typical vehicle for the personification of death, but oddly enough it brings a refreshing levity to A24's fantastical drama Tuesday.

First-time feature director Daina O. Pusić tackles the notion of death and dying head-on as a wary mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) struggles to grapple with the terminal condition of her teenage daughter (Lolo Petticrew). When a bird arrives as the slightly less grim Grim Reaper, both mother and daughter attempt to reason and outwit the creature from fulfilling its natural order. Through this personal voyage, the film offers unusually heavy introspection about our relationship with death and the terms and conditions of the living.

Tuesday offers a philosophical examination of the subject with a high-level gaze by billing itself as a fairytale and leaning into these fantasy tropes. Without these more playful elements intact, the film would be at risk of being a more traditional family drama. By avoiding the all-too-popular modern cliché of "trauma," there's room to examine the special bond between mother and daughter and the grief that follows.

Best known for her dance moves as the character Elaine in Seinfeld, Dreyfus has been casually sinking her teeth into more mature roles like 2013's Enough Said (alongside James Gandolfini), Downhill (an American remake of the beloved Force Majeure), and 2023's critically beloved You Hurt My Feelings. Based on her filmography over the last decade, it's not a shock that she's ready to tackle more challenging projects. Her stock continues to rise as an artist while fellow Seinfeld co-stars go down in flames making unauthorized films about Pop-Tarts. Fortunately, it's a role she largely excels in, bringing her usual lightheartedness for the first half of the film and digging deeper into dramatic territory toward the climax, just barely pulling it off.

Tuesday is a lofty and ambitious film that mostly succeeds, treading water in a subject many would gladly pass over. While the talking bird and other fantastical elements are a welcome addition, at times these devices come off a bit heavy-handed — a distraction from the mother-daughter relationship that lies at the heart of the story. While Tuesday is an imaginative and successful directorial debut, it unfortunately ends without a tear in sight, robbing it of the most powerful element of any grief-inspired drama.

(Sphere Films)

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